FCS Game of the Week: North Dakota at South Dakota

(STATS) – The last time South Dakota was nationally ranked before this week, the Coyotes fell to North Dakota and were knocked out of the Top 25 in 2011.

South Dakota powered into the STATS FCS Top 25 on Monday on the strength of upsetting Bowling Green for its second all-time win over an FBS opponent.

To stay in the Top 25, the Coyotes (2-0) will likely have to beat No. 10 North Dakota (1-1) on Saturday. The Interstate 29 rivals will meet for the 96th time in a highly anticipated matchup at USD’s DakotaDome in Vermillion.

“This team is explosive,” North Dakota coach Bubba Schweigert said of South Dakota. “We’ve got to avoid that type of momentum that goes against us. How do you do that? You take care of the ball, you play solid on special teams and you don’t give up explosive plays on defense.”

While UND-USD is the FCS Game of the Week, it might be hard to live up to last year’s thriller. North Dakota overcame a 20-point third-quarter deficit en route to winning 47-44 on quarterback Keaton Studsrud’s 1-yard touchdown run in the second overtime.

FCS GAME OF THE WEEK

The Matchup: No. 10 North Dakota (1-1) at No. 23 South Dakota (2-0)

Kickoff: 3 p.m. at DakotaDome (10,000) in Vermillion, South Dakota

Television: MidcoSN, ESPN3

Series: North Dakota leads 61-29-5 (last meeting: UND won 47-44 in two overtimes Sept. 17, 2016)

The Skinny: Both teams are finishing up the non-conference portion of their schedules in a matchup that’s part of the Big Sky/MVFC Challenge Series. The Missouri Valley jumped to a 4-1 lead last weekend with North Dakota providing the Big Sky with its lone win (34-0 over Missouri State). The Fighting Hawks overcame a 34-14 second-half deficit to win last year’s meeting. South Dakota is vulnerable against the run, so UND may seek a heavy dose of speedy John Santiago, who rushed for 140 yards and had two touchdowns against the Coyotes last year, and Brady Oliveira, who had 164 yards last weekend. Senior Reid Taubenheim has kicked five field goals this season and 50 in his career. South Dakota has scored 49 points in the first quarter in only two games. Quarterback Chris Streveler has produced 10 touchdowns (six passing, four rushing), the most by an FCS player, without committing a turnover this season. Eight Coyotes have combined to register 10 sacks, also the FCS high.

Prediction: The Coyotes rely on Streveler a bit too much, but he’s on a superb roll. South Dakota, 31-30.